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Each week of the NBA season, we'll highlight some of the top betting angles and plays on the schedule. Here are some tips heading into this week's slate.
Note: Lines for Tuesday and beyond are released later in the week.
Phoenix Suns (-4.5, 225) at Charlotte Hornets
Remember when the Suns were arguably the most fun bet in the NBA? That was before injuries struck, sending Phoenix on a 1-6 tailspin against the spread over the last two weeks. Still, the Suns showed signs of life in Friday's loss in Dallas after the return of pivotal stretch big Aron Baynes, who missed five of those seven games with a hip injury.
The same optimism doesn't exist for the Hornets, who were railroaded by 41 points in Milwaukee on Saturday. Home 'dogs coming off losses of 41 points or more are 10-24 ATS (29.4%) since 1995, a trend Charlotte may struggle to buck if the Suns are firing on all cylinders.
Chicago Bulls at Sacramento Kings (-5, 210.5)
The Kings disappointed with an 0-5 start to the year but have been on fire since Nov. 1, ripping off a 12-1 record ATS with a perfect 5-0 ATS mark at home. They've also gone 10-3 to the under during that stretch thanks to the NBA's slowest pace.
The up-tempo Bulls, meanwhile, have run their way to a 2-5-1 ATS record over the last two weeks, posting a 1-3 ATS record as underdogs in that span. Their offensive rating over the last month ranks dead last in the NBA, which doesn't inspire much confidence in a road win or an over for Monday's affair.
Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets have shot out of the gate to one of the NBA's best records, including an 8-2 straight-up mark at home. They're a mediocre 4-5 ATS in the Mile High City, however, and face a Lakers team eager to return to its winning ways.
Los Angeles' loss to Dallas on Sunday, just its third defeat of the season, ended a 10-game win streak. Since 2012, teams coming off losses that snapped win streaks of 10 games or more are 26-17-1 ATS (60.5%), with four straight wins dating back to 2017. The Lakers are the better team and worth playing on a short line.
Dallas Mavericks at New Orleans Pelicans
Who's going to stop the Luka Doncic train? The Mavericks star flirted with another triple-double in Sunday's win over L.A. and ranks third in points (30.6 per game), second in assists (9.6), and 15th in rebounds (9.9). His heroics have carried Dallas to a 7-1 record SU/ATS since Nov. 16 with five overs in that stretch.
Don't expect any of that to stop in the Big Easy. The Pelicans have dropped four of five ATS amid a five-game losing streak and rank fifth-worst in defensive rating - both during that stretch and across the entire season. Expect Doncic to take advantage.
Miami Heat at Boston Celtics
Since the start of November, the Celtics are an impressive 9-2 against teams that are currently .500 or worse. They've played just three clubs presently above that mark, however, with a lone win against a then-slumping Dallas squad.
Going 14-5 SU and 13-6 ATS to start the year, Miami is clearly in the latter category. Expect the Heat's elite defense to put the clamps on Boston's perimeter stars and force the likes of Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis to beat them.
Brooklyn Nets at Atlanta Hawks
If you like watching two high-usage guards lead so-so offenses against so-so defenses, this is the matchup for you. Trae Young's scoring exploits haven't been enough to carry the Hawks to more than four wins through 20 games, though over bettors enjoyed his labors in November.
Don't forget about Spencer Dinwiddie, who ranks 17th in the league in usage rate (29.7%) even after sharing the court with the currently sidelined Kyrie Irving (sixth in usage). That high usage doesn't always result in great offense for the Nets, but bettors can expect points for Dinwiddie against Atlanta's worst-ranked defense. This looks like a nice over bet in general.
Houston Rockets at Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are on an absolute tear right now, taking 10 of their last 12 ATS after a recent four-game ATS win streak that included victories over the 76ers and Jazz. Toronto has enjoyed the league's best net rating (11.3) and second-best defensive rating (101.3) over those 12 games while also allowing the second-lowest 3-point percentage (30.4%) in the NBA.
All that paints a favorable picture for a date with the Rockets. Houston ranks third in net rating during Toronto's 10-in-12 ATS stretch, but it's struggled this year when the 3-ball isn't falling. If the Raptors are giving more than a few points at home, gladly take them with an eye on the under in case Toronto's defense steps up.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.